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"In the hotel lobby, Tita says, 'Oh, Bitch. Let me give you this.' I think I need to avert my eyes, but it turns out she's just giving him the 'PHS.' No, that's not an STD or menstrual-related condition -- it's a way to change party members on the world map. Yet another way that Tita and Airhead try to worm their way into my all-male party."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy VII Part 8

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Final Fantasy IX : Part 6
By Kelly
Posted 05.09.04
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
As you may recall from the last thrilling adventure in Lindblum, Zidane has just won the Festival of the Hunt to the acclaim of all, netting himself a nice spot of gil and something called a "Master Hunter." However, the victory party hits a snag when a half-dead Burmecian soldier totters his way into the room, collapsing in a heap at Freya's feet. He brings bad news from the Burmecian King, he says to Regent Cid while Minister Artania has a freak-out over the hapless grunt seeing Cid as a walking, talking bug. Unca Cid soothes his minister quickly, since G.I. Rat has been blinded and can't see our creepy-crawly adulterous monarch. Well, that's a relief!

Our brave lad in uniform tells Unca Cid that Burmecia was over-run with an unknown force, and the Burmecian side got their ass walloped but good. Could Lindblum possibly spare a few thousand soldiers and supplies until next Tuesday? Unca Cid considers this, while G.I. Rat gives us the low-down on the unknown force. Turns out they were an army of mages in steeple-crowned hats. Oh, it's okay if everyone turns to give poor little PUGGY!! the eye all at once, kids. G.I. Rat can't see you do it. But I can, and I will remember. Nobody messes with my PUGGY!!. In the time it takes for everyone to stare at PUGGY!! in shock and awe, Unca Cid makes up his mind. They will send out a rescue force to Burmecia by jingo! G.I. Rat is most grateful, so much so that he can finally die happy - which he does.

But, like so many a military mobilization, this one isn't without its problems. Minister Artania and Unca Cid now discuss the problems of recalling men granted some well-earned R&R during the Festival of the Hunt. Cid wants to recall the aerial division currently patrolling the borders, but Minister Artania objects, saying they would lose their eyes over Alexandria if they do. Psst! Hey, Mister Minister? You probably don't want to say that while the Crown Princess of Alexandria's standing in the room. I know she's sweet and gormless, but if even Adelbert can put two and two together, then this book-learned young lady will have no trouble inferring that you and your government are spying on her dear old Mum. Patriot Act, my ass.

You don't say?

Freya decides that she can't wait for Cid to send out the troops, announcing that she's heading out for Burmecia right away. Zidane chimes in that he's going with her, foregoing even sweet princess ass-squeezin' in order to help a friend in need. Now that's true friendship for you, Freya. PUGGY!! requests a spot in the traveling party, too. And of course, my life wouldn't be complete if Garnoa didn't jump on the Burmecia Bandwagon and Adelbert didn't act like an asshat, so let's just let them have their say and get it over with. Garnoa wants to help by going back home and having a nice heart-to-heart with her mother, but Adelbert will have none of it. It's none of her royal business if her Queen Brahne wants to destroy all the neighboring cities and towns, killing a multitude of cute little talking rats in the process. Alexandria will rein supreme, goddammit! Unca Cid agrees to Adelbert's take, strangely enough, and I can't tell if he's really that dense with his buggy brain or if it's some cleverly orchestrated double fake-out psychological game he's playing to get Garnoa out into the wilderness to Find Herself™ while still maintaining the paternal uncle-y role called for in the script. Then I realize that what I've just done is borderline fan-wanky, and I become very sad. I also make a mental note to get that stupid Tidus poster the hell out of my "Auron Office of Lurve" since I think it's polluting the area around it with a malevolent wanky aura. What? I'll have you know that I got the damned poster as part of a set when I bought my first Auron poster in 2001. My friend Stephen took the Lulu poster, and it should come as no shock at all that no one of my acquaintance wanted the damned Tidus poster now poisoning my brain with its evil Wank-Rays. I think a cleansing by fire is in order here.

Back in the throne room, Zidane adds his two gil to the conversation as Garnoa attempts to whine her way to victory. No luck. Zidane has already calculated the odds of getting a wartime lay from our sweet Princess and found that the house holds all the odds, so there's no way in Hell he's going to have her Mary Sue-ing her way around the countryside, falling into a convenient plothole and twisting her ankle if he's not getting any nookie out of the deal. Garnoa, in typical Princess fashion, throws the biggest hissy fit you've ever seen. Unca Cid steps in as referee, while Freya reminds everyone to focus on the business at hand. Will Unca Cid open the Dragon's Gate so everyone can walk to Burmecia and maybe get there in a few weeks for this urgent crisis? Of course he will! But, while we're cutting through the bureaucratic red tape, why don't we all sit down to a nice nine-course meal to pass the time? An army travels on its stomach, don'tyaknow, and in this case, perhaps everyone might travel a wee bit faster if they lie down and roll their way there on food-distended bellies.

It's wrong to tease the recapper like that, Zidane

According to Unca Cid, this is the time-honored Festival of the Hunt Banquet, and to give us a little back story, he hops his buggy self up on what appears to be the roasted rib rack of a rhino for a quick history cum etiquette lesson on this auspicious meal. First of all, from the heavy use of reds and browns in the scene, it would appear this meal has met all the Dr. Atkins approved main courses and side items, such as Meat in Meat Gravy, Mashed Meat, Cold Meat Salad on Shredded Meat, Meat onna Stick, Meat Pastry Surprise, and one apple, for health. Unca Cid tells us this orgy of animal protein feasting has a long history dating back more than five hundred years. I would imagine that by this time, the barber-surgeons in Lindblum have damned near perfected a fast-acting quadruple heart bypass potion as a piquant aperitif. And since too much meat in one place tends to make people go a little crazy, it's only fitting that no eating utensils are allowed at the Banquet. You've got to eat with your hands. Now, remember, when wiping the grease from your delicate and discerning fingers, it's proper to use the bottom hem of the tablecloth, rather than just running a greasy trail all the way down the side of this fifteenth-century pillow lace creation. Honestly, you'd think you people were a bunch of savages!

Everyone digs in, vocally extolling their praises to the chefs -- everyone, that is, except Garnoa. Now, maybe she's still in her little Princess-y snit and wants to go on a hunger strike, but my spider sense is tingling like there's no tomorrow. However, since there was no way that Garnoa could possibly have known that everyone would be so dead set against letting her go back home to talk some sense into Attila the Mum, there's no reason at all to suspect any type of food-tampering, right? Maybe I'm just parano -- hey, wait a sec, there goes PUGGY!!, commenting that he's so full and more than just a little bit sleepy. Now everyone's starting to feel sleepy, complete with woozy staggering effects! Now they're all falling down at the table, except for Adelbert, the eyeliner loving queen, who screams bloody murder at the top of his lungs about some poisonous poison.

I can only hope it will be your undoing, Adelbert

Garnoa clues Adelbert in that he's just fine, she didn't drug his food. Adelbert agrees that he does feel just fine, now that she mentions it. Even with the fait accompli right there in front of his rust-flecked face, Adelbert still takes far too long to figure out that his dear, sweet Princess was the mastermind behind this clever mealtime plot. She explains it to him, making sure to use small, easy to understand words so he doesn't get confused. But while she's explaining, it's time yet again for another Garnoa-brand whine about why it's so, like, hard to be a royal princess!!!! Garnoa wants to make her own decisions in life, and that means going back to Alexandria, war or no war. What's a few hundred dead in the face of a tearful heart-to-heart and a trip to the Dairy Queen? Adelbert, showing a rare burst of common sense, refuses to be a part of this plan. War is Hell, he says, and there's just no way he could let his darling Princess find that out. Cait Sith on a scooter, the man will never learn, will he? Apparently not, since it only takes Garnoa a few more well-placed whines to get her way and have Adelbert agreeing to take her back to Alexandria. As they leave the room, Garnoa pauses to apologize to Zidane for tricking him, and Adelbert shows commendable restraint for not kicking our prone hero right in the nadgers.

Shhhh! It'll spoil the surprise!

No sooner do Garnoa and Adelbert make good their exit than Zidane and the others awaken from their tryptophan induced slumbers, rubbing their little sprite eyes in a drowsy stupor. Unca Cid recovers first, telling the table that they've been had in a big way by the sweet and demure Crown Princess of Alexandria. Not something I'd want down on my adventurer's resume, Cid. I mean, what marauding band of miscreants will ever take you seriously if under the "Reason for Leaving Last Job" spot you had to put "Tricked by the Princess and put to sleep with own soporific agent while she and her bodyguard escaped the castle"? You'd be laughed out of all the skanky dive bars from here to Treno if word of this got around, so best get up and at 'em -- and head off in the wrong damned direction.

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